6 Ways a Mentor Can Accelerate Your Coding Career

This guest blog is written by Designli

Learning to code is a lot of fun, but it can also be fraught with stress and confusion. Having the assistance of an experienced mentor to help you navigate your journey is invaluable. Mentors can provide a means of achieving your career goals.

Here are six ways in which a mentor can help you accelerate your career in technology.

1. Help in Avoiding Pitfalls

Mentors can provide valuable advice on ways to avoid common pitfalls. After all, your mentor was once a pupil, and there is a good chance that they have encountered some of the same issues that could hinder your progression. A mentor may be able to foresee problem areas and prevent you from making the same mistakes they made. When you are working with a mentor, not only will they be able to answer questions, but they will also be able to help further by showing you how to implement any changes that are needed.

2.  Motivation

Let’s be honest, a lack of motivation is something that plagues all of us from time to time. A mentor can provide the motivation you need to get back in front of the editor. Some mentors may put together study materials and test projects, to ensure that you are continuing to progress.

3. Customised Learning

One of the disadvantages of learning in a coding classroom setting is the lack of individual attention. When working with a mentor, you can discuss both your short-term and long-term goals, and together create a customised plan for achieving success. This can really help you identify and focus on the areas that will aid you in the future.
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4. Help with the Unknown

Coding languages can be mysterious, and at times, downright confusing. Even if you have only been coding for a short time, you have probably encountered issues that seem to have no cause. When you are unaware of the origin of the problem, you may be left wondering where to begin solving it. A mentor can help demystify unknown errors and explain them in a way that is easy to understand.

5. Career Advice and Connections

The best career advice comes from someone who is currently working in the field, and coding mentors are no exception. If you are looking for advice as to which career path is right for you, and more specifically, which languages and software you should focus on learning to achieve your goals, there is no one better to ask than your mentor. Not only can they offer career advice, but there is a chance that they will have connections in the industry that could help you land a job.

6. Real-World Experience

While studying can prepare you for many situations you may face in the real-world, there are times when unique obstacles arise that do not have a concrete solution. Coding mentors can provide you with real-world examples of challenges that you may be forced to overcome, so you will be confident in a similar situation.

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These were just a few reasons to consider using a mentor to help further your tech career.   If you are interesting in being mentored (whether you’re have a technical or non-technical background), read more on DevelopHer’s speed mentoring events.
You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about future speed mentoring events during the year.

Why we should aim to be brave and not perfect: Learning through role models

Do something that scares you.

Fake it till you make it.

Embrace failure.

We’ve all heard these expressions so many times that they’ve become almost meaningless catch phrases rather than pieces of advice. They’re also much easier said than done, especially for women.

Do you recall ever wanting to do something but holding back because you thought you weren’t good enough? Have you ever tried something new and immediately stopped, thinking you were bad at it? And then of course, never attempted it again?

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Reshma Saujani, the Founder of Girls Who Code, had similar thoughts about herself. As a Yale Law School graduate, she had always wanted to serve the public, but was afraid to take the first step. Finally, in 2010 at the age of 33, she decided to run for Congress. She was the first Indian-American woman to do that. She launched an election campaign, which for her felt like  jumping off a cliff but in fact she was set for victory.

The end result? She lost. Big time. It was a loss she referred to as “humiliating”. But it taught her a lesson, and it wasn’t one about failure – it was a lesson in bravery.

It became clear to her that very few women take a leap of faith and pick a career that they’re unsure of. Many of us go for roles that we know we are going to be good at, as we’re always worried that we’d under-deliver. We also very often think we lack the knowledge or the natural ability to accomplish something. Reshma understood that the desire to be perfect is instilled in girls from a young age and we grow up thinking that multiple attempts at something are a defeat.

“We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.” – Reshma Saujani.

She had given an inspirational TED Talk about how the quest for perfection (not lack of ability) is responsible for the gender gap. By pursuing her desire to serve the society and help increase women’s share of the computing workforce, she founded Girls Who Code. Reshma thought that alongside teaching girls problem-solving, team work and confidence, programming would help them learn that imperfection is okay. Coding is all about trial and error; it’s hard, but extremely rewarding. It emphasises the importance of perseverance and self-belief.

Since 2012 when Girls Who Code was established, they’ve taught over 40,000 girls and operate in all 50 states of the U.S. They have partnered up with many Universities and major IT companies that support the program. But most importantly, they have given thousands of girls new-found confidence in their own ability and potential.

“..when we teach girls to be imperfect, and we help them leverage it, we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us.”

At DevelopHer, we’re in awe of Reshma, who has done so much to help elevate women in technology. The way she’s mitigating the gender gap issue is just genius – she teaches girls the in-demand skill of programming and, at the same time, equips them in self-belief. Since losing in the first election in 2010, she’s founded a successful non-profit and ran as a Democratic candidate for New York City Public Advocate in 2013.

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If there is one learning we can tell you to do based on Reshma’s experience is  –
Do something that scares you.
Because you can, and you will!

If you’re interested in also inspiring others and doing something out of your comfort zone, sign up to our speaker list here.

Written by Martyna Maron

International Women’s Day at UK Parliament

Last week, DevelopHer celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th March at the House of Parliament, as, Sally Freeman and Sarah Rench from the team were invited to the Women in Parliament IWD event to listen and encourage others on how to be #BeBoldForChange.

During the event, we heard from a number of incredibly bold women who all aimed to fight for equality whether in or outside the Parliament and whether these changes be in our workplace or just in our day-to-day activities. These inspiring women, all mothers, were also tackling the art of balancing and fighting against the stereotypes.

We wanted to share with you the key highlights from these role models and how we can all think about being bold and making change.

  • Mims Davies, MP – and the first in her family to enter higher education
    – As Parliamentarians it is their our duty to mitigate against injustice

    Davies addressed the issue with the lack of MPs who are women. For many decades, female MPs made less than 5% of the total, but since the 2015 general election there are currently 195 female MPs (29%) out of a total 650 members of parliament. Despite there being more female MPs than ever before, Davies emphasised that we still need to reach 50% so we are really hitting quality and ensuring we’re paying the way for the rest of society.

  • Maria Miller, MP – Chair for the Women and Equalities Committee
    – We need more women into Parliament to have a stronger voice where Parliamentary decisions are made

    Miller discussed the importance of scrutinising the government and driving equality. Many MPs have pushed through policies relating to cross-government equality strategy and legislation, transgender equality, sexual harassment prevention and action in schools, women’s health, tackling the gender pay gap and many others. As we start to see progress in these areas, there is a lot more to do and support for these areas.

 

  • Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, MP – Previous accomplished lawyer
    – Nothing has come to a women’s agenda without a fight. It doesn’t matter which party you join, it just matters that you join

    Sheikh like many of us in DevelopHer believe equality means ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favourably on the basis of their specific protected characteristic including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

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  • Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe and Chief Executive of Talk Talk
    Businesses need to be like rugby teams – they’re made up of different shape, size and looking employees.
    “Leading a diverse team can be harder than leading an identical team. It requires an acceptance of difference to get the best out of different people”.

    Baroness Harding commented that we are all unconsciously biased and it’s important that this is considered when we are building and managing teams. We need to accept that we are all unconsciously biased, in order to challenge and overcome it. A key lesson Baroness Harding also embraced was the importance for working fathers and male role models who also fight for equality in order for change to happen.

 

  • Fiona Cannon,  Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Lloyds, responsible for diversity and inclusion initiatives for 90,000 Lloyds employees and 30 million customers. Cannon was awarded the OBE in 2011 for services to equal opportunities and also recognised as a Working Families Pioneer by Working Families in 2009.

    – We are starting to challenge conventional wisdoms

    Cannon explained how Lloyds took bold steps in publishing their goal to increase the number of C-suite women to 40% and the importance of more women in positions of authority in all sectors. One approach to change in the workplace is to address that existing business models don’t always meet the needs of employees anymore and that we need to be investing in ‘local hubs’ for work. It’s important to adopt agile hiring or flexible working – and to start breaking the traditional 9-5 office based way of thinking in order to bring benefits for all parties: for employees, companies and clients.

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If there is one key learning we could take away from this day of empowerment – is that change is starting to happen and we need to make sure we join work together to ensure change continues to increase equality in our day to day. Never underestimate the power of role models (female or male) and how this can help you be bold not just for now but for the future.

To read more about our Parliament experience, read ParliaWOMENtarians and the importance” by Sarah Rench from the DevelopHer team.

Keep up to date with our current adventures make sure your follow us on twitter @DevelopHerUK and Instagram.

Time to celebrate with The Drum’s 50 Women under 30 list

At DevelopHer, we’ve been popping the bubbly as 2017 brings some wonderful news to the DevelopHer team and community. This year, The Drum announced a list of the 50 women trailblazing through the digital industry before reaching the age of 30. With the results recently released, we’re so proud to see not one, not two, but three of the DevelopHer team had made the list this year! Not only that, but a member of our mentoring alumni also made the list too!

We wanted to congratulate every single woman who applied and got nominated. It’s encouraging to see the level of female talent that are making their marks in the tech and digital world, and also the hard work our team and community have done so far. We’d thought we’d share highlights of what inspires the nominated DevelopHer list.

Well done ladies, and we only hope more of our community make the list next year!

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Laura Chung, DevelopHer Board
Regional Product Marketing Manager for International markets at comScore

  • What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering marketing today?
    Curiosity is a great starting point for any career progression, so I would advise someone starting out to never be afraid to push themself to learn more and to ask questions. Marketing in some aspects requires mastering the art of multi-tasking. If you are on top of everything, it gives you enough time to find the challenges that really excite you”

Ella Roche, DevelopHer Board
PR and Outreach Manager at The Honey Partnership

  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
    I see myself as managing director of the Honey Partnership US. We’re a fast growth business and I’ve been running Chinese and US accounts since I joined. I have a supportive management team and excellent mentoring.”

Eniko Tarkany-Szucs, DevelopHer Board
Senior Partner Manager, EMEA at Sprinklr

  • Do you believe diversity in the industry is changing for the better?
     “
    I think there is a push for change and there are a lot of great organisations out there. Generally, I think there needs to be more women in leadership positions and/or male dominated fields who are prepared to mentor and serve as role models to other women.”

Lauren Ingram, DevelopHer Mentoring Alumni
Marketing Manager at 360i

  • What is your biggest career achievement to date?
    Moving to Berlin. I didn’t have a job offer, I just knew I wanted to work in the bustling tech scene there. So I bought a plane ticket and I sent a tweet to a chief executive of a startup I wanted to work for and went for it.”

Read more about our awesome DevelopHer team here and how you can get involved with DevelopHer.

Hannah, entrepreneur at Layer Home discusses the mentoring programme experience

In many ways, this time last year feels like it was just an eye blink ago.

In September 2015, I attended the first session in the six-month mentoring programme run by the team by DevelopHer and reading back over my notes from that session, I can literally feel the excitement running off the page.

We were each given a gift at the first session. A beautifully wrapped, perfectly analogue gift in our technology-centric worlds. Smythson had kindly donated a small, blue notepad for each of us and the wonderful team had handwritten a personalised note in each of them.

Written on a card inside my sky blue notebook was the quote from Confucius: ‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart.’

For me, this set the tone for the six month programme that followed and has continued to influence me in my life and MY business today. To do things with your whole heart, you have to own the decisions that you make, believe in them wholeheartedly and most importantly, be proud of them and of yourself. (Yes, it’s squishy but sometimes you need an emotional reality check – and that was one for me.)

I’ve never felt like someone who lacked confidence. HOWEVER I believe that there can be something inherent about us as women that stops us from just ‘leaping’. We think about things deeply in a way that perhaps men don’t, and sometimes this can hold us back. Yes, make measured, smart decisions in the main – but sometimes you just have to leap with your  heart and believe you can do it.   

Meeting other women (and men, too!) who live, work and leap with their whole hearts has cemented in me the belief that a network, support system, group, community – whatever you want to call it – is an invaluable part of fostering this inherent belief within ourselves and other young women that whatever they want to achieve is possible. NOT only is it possible, they can be the ones to do it. This is where the next chapter of the DevelopHer community comes in, empowering and elevating women.

Some of the people I met through the program have gone on to be important mentors. THEY make key introductions or to challenge me personally and professionally in ways that have helped to move things forwards. I made friends and peers, people who I can turn to when something feels difficult or overwhelming – sometimes all you need is your tribe to tell you something is possible. I’ve met role models and inspirations, people who I’ve looked up to and realised that they are amazing, but also human beings just like me.

It was a wonderful programme to be a part of and I benefited more in six months that I could even have imagined. So as we enter 2017 I look forward to using what I learnt from the mentoring programme to confront and overcome what the new year will bring me.

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Hannah Russell

To find out more of the top 10 things I learnt from the programme check out next month’s blog!

 

DevelopHer’s Trip to 10 Downing Street

On the 24th of November, we took 100 members of our community to 10 Downing Street for an exclusive afternoon of mentoring and networking at one of the most prestigious locations in the world.

The select group was split into mentors and mentees and we held several speed mentoring sessions to encourage knowledge sharing, with the hope that everyone took home an important piece of advice to help them on their career path.

We were lucky enough to be joined by Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP who chaired the session. She gave a positive and enthusiastic speech on the technology industry and gave insight on how crucial it is to support more young girls to get into STEM subjects while at school.

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There were many familiar faces and it was great to see both mentees and mentors taking notes and absorbing what they were learning. We see such value in this type of event on such an important world stage and hope to make this an annual occurrence.

“We were delighted to have been welcomed  to 10 Downing Street for a second time. The event brought together a group of determined, hardworking and dedicated people from the technology industry and cemented in our minds the importance of mentoring and building a community.” – Emily Atkinson, MD, DevelopHer

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The event was organised by the DevelopHer team with particular thanks to Diana Paredes, CEO of Suade.

We will continue to host these types of events in the future, so please make sure you are on our newsletter to find out first.

DevelopHer Launch Party: Recap & Highlights

On the 27th October, we were delighted to hold our official DevelopHer launch party.
The event was held at the stunning Moo.com offices in Farringdon, London, and our doors welcomed a full house of over 200 attendees.

The night was filled with inspiration – ranging from thoughtful speakers, networking and a wonderful live performance by the talented Hope. We would like to thank everyone who attended the party, and helped create such a fantastic atmosphere. We were truly thrilled to see so many women and men from different backgrounds to join us on this journey.

In case you weren’t able to attend, here is a recap of some of the highlights and best bits from our launch party:

The evening started off with a drinks reception and with a big thanks to our sponsors, the first 150 attendees who arrived received our first ever printed DevelopHer goody bags provided by Shout Promotional Merchandise. On the night, our guests were treated by the fabulous Le Salon who provided manicure treatments to get us in the party mood, whilst MOO appetized our community with drinks and snacks for an evening of networking and celebration. The social buzz of the event was captured by the wonderful AwesomeWall and we were so pleased to see #DevelopHer was trending on Twitter during the night!

Our Managing Director, Emily Atkinson opened with a few words about DevelopHer’s mission and values.

Our aim is to work with all the other female-focused communities in London and the UK to build the biggest, strongest and most diverse community we can for technology and entrepreneurship in the UK. Our aim going forward is to support women and men and everybody in the tech community. We are aiming to go for diversity and inclusion. Absolutely everyone is welcome to our events.
Emily Atkinson, Managing Director of DevelopHer.

Meri Williams, CTO of MOO kindly spoke at our event, reinforcing the importance of diversity in a workplace and the need for a support community to progress. This was followed closely with insights from our mentor and mentees of last year’s mentorship programme, to find out how their experience was.

“Mentoring is very much a two-way street – you get out what you put in. For me it was incredibly rewarding, being able to see the businesses and the careers of the mentees growing over the six month period. It was just incredible. A lot of people at the beginning were unsure of whether they were doing the right thing. Some of them got new jobs through the mentoring scheme, some of them had been running their own businesses and they got new inspiration and new business leads through the scheme and now their businesses are absolutely flying. For me as a mentor, being able to see the mentees grow was incredibly rewarding.”
Lucy Blair, Director of International Sales & Marketing at The Orchard and DevelopHer mentor.

I started the DevelopHer mentoring scheme in September 2015. At the time I was thinking about maybe starting my own business and I was full of insecurities. During the six month period, I learnt a huge amount. We were a group of 15 young women from totally different backgrounds but all of us wanted to be a success. We met these amazing mentors and it just gives you a kick up the a** and makes you think that if you want to do something, just go for it. My dream has turned into a reality and Layer Home has been live since the start of this year. We now have over four thousand products on the website, we work with hundreds of sellers and we add 300 new products to the site every week. It’s really gone from strength to strength.”
Hannah Russell, DevelopHer Mentee and Co-Founder & CEO of Layer Home.

“From a personal development point of view, the programme really helped me with my confidence. I’m pretty shy and it’s really helped my public speaking. Last month I spoke at the Ministry of Justice and next month I’m speaking at a big health conference. The DevelopHer community has also just connected me with the best people. A year later I’m still chatting with the other mentees, mentors and DevelopHer team – it’s like a family and really the best bunch of people I’ve met in a long time.”
Iona Inglesby, DevelopHer Mentee and Founder of Dot One.

A big thank you goes to our community for your kindness, support and encouragement. We’re so pleased to capture the night on film, thanks to Mai Vo from the DevelopHer Team and share the great memories from the night!

Watch the video recap by Mai Vo here

Don’t miss out on our next events!

As we mentioned we’re committed more than ever to work with other diversity and tech groups with similar values to provide you the events and opportunities you need. We have a great line-up of events before the end of the year, including a panel on the Adventures in Tech Careers, screening the documentary of “Dream, Girl”, attending Unbound Festival Unbound Festival and also returning to 10 Downing Street!

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A special thanks to our sponsors and partners for your support on the night:

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Sponsors

  • Moo.com – Our key sponsor and partner who provided the event space, food, drink and flyers printing for our launch party.
  • Shout PM – Promotional merchandise sponsor who printed the goody bags, banners and t-shirts.
  • Le Salon – Provided professional manicures for our guests.

Partners

  • Unbound – Provided our community 150 free tickets to their festival as a launch special.
  • Awesome wall – Provided us the interactive social wall for the night.

Goody Bag Sponsors


How to get involved:

To keep up to date with our events and news, sign up to our mailing list here.
If your keen to speak at our events or becoming a mentor sign up to our speaker list.
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